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New life! – Ephesians 4:17-32

New life! – Ephesians 4:17-32
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 5, 2017

There are times in everyone’s life that they wish they had a do over. You know a new start in life. There are those who wait for others to make their life better and there are those who decide to make their lives better and they do. However, as much as one tries to make things better in reality you are the same person except with window dressing.

There is a way to make your life new both inside and out and it is guaranteed to do so. Twelve men were going about their daily lives when they were approached by a man who said he could change their lives forever if they were willing to follow him. While they all said they would only eleven were willing to completely give their lives to him and in doing so they found a new life. Paul now makes the same argument to the church at Ephesus; let’s discover what he teaches us about this new life.

READ: Ephesians 4:17-32

At one time Paul was one of the most up and coming young men in his nation’s ruling class both spiritually and intellectually known as the Sanhedrin. Paul would write his experience by writing the church at Galatia, “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” Galatians 1:14 NIV) But then God set him apart and called him by his grace. Paul writes the Ephesians that they were to…

I. Remember their new lives! (Vv. 17-20)

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.

1. This new life for Paul was not some esoteric concept. There are those today who think that by simply being good they are totally good inside and out. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is why Paul wrote, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” Paul was not being racist in his remarks rather he was referencing how all of us are “gentiles” or futile in our thinking until we come to Christ by faith! Paul understood that everyone is “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” We are all sinners by nature and by choice! Just as non-Jews, Gentiles, did not understand God and lived in spiritually sin-dark lives, all of us are until we also come to Christ! In fact we are separated from the life of God because of our spiritual ignorance and the ungodly world’s hardening of our hearts! We are to remember our new lives! Lest we forget good people do not know God and good people do not inherit all that God has for them; goodness does not get one into heaven! Even acts of “goodness” come from a sinful heart that exists in a sin-fallen world. We may think we are good enough for God to love us but in fact we have “lost all sensitivity” we might have toward God and have “given (ourselves) over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more!” When we fail to realize the ungodliness of even the “good” things of the world we fail to understand why God humbled himself and came as Jesus to die on a cross for us. We must truly understand what Paul teaches, namely that “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV) He reminds his readers therefore “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.” We are to remember our new lives!

EXAMPLE: Even though my father has been dead for almost 50 years, there are times I can still hear him and sometimes when I walk into a room if there are certain smells it is as if he was right there. Of course I know he isn’t but our minds help us to remember these kinds of things in this way. Today at the end of worship we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. It does not impart any special dispensation, extra forgiveness, or grace. In it we discover anew the sacrifice of Jesus for us so that we might live for him. In observing the Lord’s Supper it helps us to remember our new lives!

Living a new life in Jesus begins with our trusting him by faith and then we are to daily decide to live for him. In doing so we are to…

II. Put off the old life and put on the new life! (Vv. 21-25)

Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

1. Paul continued by reminding his readers that “Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” Their hearts were no longer darkened, their lives were now made new in Jesus! They had heard, they had been taught, and now they fully realized the truth that is in Jesus! Only those who intimately know Christ can understand what Paul is writing here. We come to faith in Jesus and are spiritually changed. We were taught this and understand this but now “with regard to your former way of life” we are “to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires”. Anything or anyone that keeps us from living the lives we are to in Jesus we are to get rid of in our lives! Paul was not being uncaring here; he knew that this could be awfully hard for new believers to do. But he was trying to encourage them in any way he could as individuals and as a church to live for Jesus! Jude would write, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23 NIV) Therefore we are “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” It is a conscious decision on our part! To put it into terms we can understand: If we live for Jesus we become more like Jesus! If we try to stay comfortable in the ungodly world we will never attain to what God truly desires for our lives in Jesus so Paul writes, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Again Paul is speaking to the church, to believers. If we want a church, a life, a second chance that truly works we have to make the decision to put off the old life and put on the new life!

EXAMPLE: This past Wednesday is known as “Ash Wednesday” by millions of believers all over the world. However, many fail in their spiritual thinking concerning what this means and if it is worthwhile for them to do. Living for Jesus is more than doing an act of contrition one day a year. An ashen cross pasted on one’s forehead can remind us of Jesus’ humility and how we are to live, but it is meaningless unless one has given their life to Christ in the first place. Then we are to put off the old life and put on the new life!

Getting rid of old habits can be hard unless we propagate new ones that are beneficial to our new way of life. It is more than repeating the mantra of “Everyday in every way I am getting better and better.” It is a conscious decision on our part to live this new life. Paul related that…

III. We are not to sin in our new life! (Vv. 26-32)

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

1. Paul gets real here in his letter to the Ephesians in sharing with them exactly how they were to live for Jesus. He bluntly writes, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Anger is one of the most destructive forces in a person’s life. It is easy to respond in anger, just look at all the protests, riots, and anger being expressed by those who think they deserve something or are being deprived in some way. When we respond in anger we give ungodly thoughts and actions a foothold in our lives. We allow satanic influences to gain territory. We thwart such ungodliness when we respond in God’s love right away. Paul continued that “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” A crook, whether it is the government or the individual is one who steals from others what they did not earn with their own hands. Instead we are to share as believers with those within the church who are in need. We are to show that the love of God lives in us even to the things we participate including what we say; “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” In fact we are not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” We can “grieve” God who dwells within each believer when we do not walk in Christ. We walk in Jesus when we “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” And when we are “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”, we are living as Jesus did. This is what we are called to and how we are to live; we are not to sin in our new life!

EXAMPLE: God knew we could never be perfect and never sin. This is why he gave us himself in Jesus and empowered us through his presence of the Holy Spirit. However, like a good parent that reminds their kids when they are leaving the house to be as good as they can be until they get home, God reminds us to live good lives in him until he returns again. We are not to sin in our new life!

Conclusion:

We are to remember our new lives! Put off the old life and put on the new life! We are not to sin in our new life!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Hebrews 9:11-15 – The blood of the Lamb of God!

Hebrews 9:11-15 – The blood of the Lamb of God!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 7, 2012 AM

When I was younger, we had a clubhouse we had built in a huge fir tree and then we decided to build another by digging one just down from the tree in the hillside by the railroad tracks. In order to get into the clubhouse you had to know how to enter. We had a set of passwords and booby traps to entrap the unsuspecting who dared enter without knowing the secrets of our clubhouse. Of course looking back on those security measures we had, they seem pretty juvenile now. You know what, there are religions in our world today that have the same kind of secret handshakes and code words that you have to understand and do in order to get into the “secret” inner arena of their spiritual philosophies. It is a matter of genuflections or erasing one’s engrams.

The Old Testament ritual had become, well, so much ritual because of Jesus Christ! But how does one show this to people who had for their entire lives and for centuries lived for and had adhered to those very rituals? The fact is the Old Testament was just pointing toward the New Covenant established by Jesus’ sacrifice and planned by God all along. Those beautiful words of John the Baptist remind us of this wonderful truth when John saw Jesus coming toward him as he was baptizing in the Jordan River and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV) Remember, Peter tells us that it is “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19) that we are cleansed and saved. It is by the blood of the Lamb of God! Let’s discover how this is true…

READ: Hebrews 9:11-15

There is a PBS show called Doc Martin where a chief surgeon in a London hospital has to give up surgery and begin again, in a small town, as their area doctor because of his aversion to blood. He used to see people as mere objects of his specialty until he came face-to-face with the fact that those he was performing surgery on were someone’s parent, child, or beloved spouse. We do not like to talk about such things as blood, yet we are intrigued by the horror of it in movies. The plain truth is that sin costs and it demands a tremendous price. We learn that…

I. Jesus entered heaven’s tabernacle through his blood! (Vv. 11-12)

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12 NIV)

1. Now that the Messiah has come, a more perfect system is introduced by which the conscience may be made free from guilt. Under the Messiah, the Jews anticipated greater blessings. They looked forward to better things than they enjoyed under the old covenant. They expected more confirmation of God’s divine favor; a clearer knowledge of the way of forgiveness; and more prominent spiritual satisfaction. Of these, Hebrews relates, “Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here!” Jesus has come, fulfilled his office in every way, and has given us everything! It was by Jesus they were ransomed back; and the time had actually arrived when they might enjoy the long-anticipated good things! Jesus proved he was capable and who he was because he “went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation” to do his ministry of high priest. In fact, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” It was by the means of his body and blood offered as the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus entered into the most holy place in heaven! It was by this means we have “obtained eternal redemption” for our sins! Jesus entered heaven’s tabernacle through his blood!

EXAMPLE: When we go to the county fair, there is usually a fun house or house of horrors or some such thing. Inevitably, there is a sign that reads, “Enter if you dare!” or “Enter at your own risk!” That is kind of the way it was when the priests entered the tabernacle. How truly wonderful to learn we have Jesus who “went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle” by the power of his sacrifice. Jesus entered heaven’s tabernacle through his blood!

We can intellectually note that we are cleansed by Jesus’ sacrifice, but it is another thing when we have to live with ourselves! We know, as Paul did, that “nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For, I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19 NIV) We are inherently spiritually insecure people! Hebrews lets us know that we need not fret because…

II. Jesus’ blood is far better than our sacrifice! (Vv. 13-14)

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14 NIV)

1. In Numbers 19:9, God related that the ashes of a heifer were to be kept “for use in the water cleansing” because it was “for purification from sin.” The ashes were to be carefully preserved, mixed with water, and then sprinkled on those who were for any reason ceremonially unclean. The “reason” for this appears to have been that the heifer, whose blood has been offered as a sacrifice, and the application of the ashes were therefore regarded as an evidence of one’s participation in that sacrifice. It was needed, where there were so many laws regarding external pollutions where the individual of the Jewish community were regarded as frequently “unclean” in various ways. There had to be some method in which they could be declared to be cleansed from their “uncleanness” and God provided the ashes of a heifer. That is why “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.” “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ” being infinitely more precious than the blood of an animal inwardly cleanse us! Notice too that the trinity is in full display in the act of redemption here because Hebrews also notes that Jesus “through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God.” It is by this wondrous means we “cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death (literally, “dead works”) so that we may serve the living God!” The old covenant acts always lead to spiritual death, whereas the new covenant establish through Jesus’ blood leads to life! Jesus blood is far better than our sacrifice!

EXAMPLE: I grew up in a church where the priest would walk down the aisle making the sign of the cross while sprinkling holy water on the congregation in memory of baptism to confer grace and blessing on the participants. It is one of many rituals that the Catholic Church believes helps God and us to get rid of any unconfessed sin we might have in our lives. How sad that there are those who in our day still do not understand that Jesus paid it all. That Jesus’ blood is better than any sacrifice we could ever make. Jesus’ blood is far better than our sacrifice!

In our day and age, we hear a lot about advocacy. There are advocates for children, senior adults, parents, different ethnic groups, the poor, and others. You name a group or individual and there is probably an advocacy for it. How marvelous to learn therefore that there is an advocate for our sin! We discover that this is the message of the gospels and the message of Hebrews, namely that…

III. Jesus’ blood sets us free! (v.15)

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15 NIV)

1. So how is it that we who are so easily insecure in our relationship with God are made secure even when may think we are not? The writer states it is for “this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant!” Wow! We are always looking for some excuse as to why God should not, could not, or cannot forgive us of our sin but God can, could, should and did! As the apostle Paul reminds us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast!” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV) God’s grace is exactly that, his grace! It is not won or procured through the endless bloodletting of animals and was never meant to be! It was so “that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance!” Notice the predestination of being “called.” God calls us through the Holy Spirit, to Jesus as the Mediator between God and man, into the new covenant, which Jesus has made through his blood! We gain entrance into the heavenly tabernacle by faith through this same blood! In fact, Jesus “has died as a ransom to set” all of us “free” not only from our present sins, but also “from the sins committed under the first covenant” which were not covered until Jesus. In all of these things, we used to need the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on us, but now we are cleansed by Jesus’ blood! Can you imagine going to Worship every Sunday, hoping your sins will be forgiven, and being sprinkled with ash water? Praise God that Jesus’ blood sets us free!

EXAMPLE: I will never forget how as a young man the impact of this truth had on my life. I no longer had to try and please God. I no longer had to worry if I had done enough. I no longer had to guess if I had made enough contrition, lit enough candles, said enough prayers, or made enough confessions. For those of you who never grew up in a faith that held you imprisoned to doing good works and had you convinced that you could never know if you were truly saved, that in fact, not even the leadership or your local priest knew for certain if they were saved! Then, you have the glorious good news jump off the pages of Scripture, and you realize that Jesus’ blood sets us free!

Conclusion:

Jesus entered heaven’s tabernacle through his blood, Jesus’ blood is a better than our sacrifice, and Jesus’ blood sets us free! It is all because of the blood of the Lamb of God!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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